Ukraine can no longer supply power to Crimea

Ukraine can no longer supply power to Crimea
Photo: Boston Globe via Getty Images

After the winter hit Ukraine and shortages in the power grid started increasing operators began limiting consumption of electricity. This led to rolling blackouts in Crimea. Ukraine does not plan to deliver the needed kilowatt-hours to the peninsula, including transit through Russia.

Darkness descends in broad daylight

On Wednesday morning, the State Unitary Enterprise Krymenergo reported problems with power supply on the peninsula: the delivery of electricity from mainland Ukraine was minimized and now it is delivered through only one of the four high-voltage lines feeding Crimea. Two power lines were cut off by Ukrenergo and another one has been under repair since mid-November.

That is why in order to reduce the load rate to 60 MW Krymenergo ordered DTEK Krymenergo (which supplies electricity to consumers) to apply the schedule of emergency outage. “The schedule of emergency outage affected both the people and businesses,” said representative of DTEK Krymenergo. On November 26, restrictions on the consumption of electricity were lifted and power supply for consumers was fully resumed.

The last time that Crimea encountered such serious difficulties with power supply was in early September of this year. Now, the problems have resumed. Seeing as the population is the largest consumer on the peninsula (it accounts for more than 50% of all electricity consumed), the power outage affected it the most. As a result of the cuts in the supply of electricity, the Crimean authorities had to resort to backup power supply even at the automobile border crossing points between Crimea and mainland Ukraine.

Radiating optimism

Despite the obvious problems with power shortages, Russian authorities still claim that everything is under control. In particular, yesterday Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that all necessary reserves of power which will allow the peninsula survive the autumn-winter period without significant problems were created on the territory. He added that almost 1,500 reserve sources of power supply with a total capacity of 310 MW were delivered and connected and they would fully cover the needs of the most important facilities on the peninsula.

In addition, now there are 13 mobile gas turbine plants with a total capacity of nearly 300 MW, which will balance the work of the Crimean power system in case of limited supply of electricity from Ukraine, say representatives of the press service of the Ministry of Energy of Russia. Be that as it may, they did not explain why such equipment was not used during limitation of supply from Ukraine this week.

Shortage of wattage

Crimea lacks its own generating facilities. Four power plants with a nominal capacity of 327 MW, which were constructed in the Soviet era barely attain 110 MW. The peninsula also has large wind and solar power stations, but they do not solve the problem because generation of electricity at these facilities depends on the whims of nature due to which the power industry is forced to reserve the same power of traditional methods of power generation. Therefore, the bulk of electricity consumed in Crimea comes from continental Ukraine: in 2013 only 1.2 billion kWh of the consumed 7.1 billion kWh was produced on the peninsula.

Noteworthy the measures taken to ensure the stable supply of the peninsula are insufficient: the new generation capacities mentioned by Novak are able to provide approximately 600 MW and thermal power plants can provide another 110 MW, whereas in winter Crimea needs generating capacities of up to 1,300 MW to meet the needs of the population.

Despite this, Ukrainian authorities are not ready to cover Crimea’s shortage of electricity by its own capacities. The issue of energy flow from Russia to Crimea through the territory of Ukraine has yet to be resolved. Representatives of the state enterprise Ukrinterenergo, which sells Ukrainian electricity to the peninsula, said no agreements on the transit of electricity were signed, according to RBC-Ukraine. “No such agreement was reached with Russia,” confirmed Director of Ukrinterenergo Volodymyr Zynevych. Earlier, Minister of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine Yuriy Prodan said that in the event of a shortage in Ukraine’s energy system the supply of power to Crimea will be limited, particularly if consumers have debts for electricity that was supplied from mainland Ukraine.

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